Miliband hoping for strong commitments to battle global warming

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The Independent Online

Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband today called for a European deal on renewable energy and reducing emissions as the "only route" to securing an international agreement on global warming.

Mr Miliband is joining ministers from across Europe at meetings over the next two weeks as part of talks to secure an agreement on an energy and environment package for EU up to 2020.

It is hoped the deal will be agreed by heads of state at the European Council at the end of next week, coinciding with the end of the latest round of international climate change negotiations in Poznan, Poland.

Mr Miliband said there was a need for strong commitments from EU countries to tackle their emissions in order to secure a new global deal to cut greenhouse gases - which it is hoped will be agreed in Copenhagen next year.

In a speech at the CBI climate change conference in London today, he also said that US president-elect Barack Obama's commitment to a low-carbon economy was a "massive opportunity".

"With the prospect of a global deal, with the run-up to the European deal, with carbon budgets driving good policy making at home, I believe we can create the path to a low-carbon, high growth economy with confidence," he said.

And he said that, with 12 months to go to a global deal and less than 12 days to Europe's deal, the moment that American action was promised on climate change would be the "wrong time to hesitate and fail to act".

"We need the European deal, both because it's right and it's the only route to the global deal we need," he said.

British officials have acknowledged the importance of securing an ambitious green deal in Europe to send a strong message to the UN negotiations in Poland.

Today Mr Miliband said a global deal would need commitments from developed countries to cut emissions, pledges from developing nations to move away from "business as usual" greenhouse gas output and funding for poorer countries to cope with climate change and cut their emissions.

At the conference in Poznan, aid agency Oxfam called for the new treaty to include a scheme in which polluters would pay for the right to emit greenhouse gases.

Oxfam wants richer countries which have done the most to create the problem of climate change to pay for poorer countries to cope with the impacts - which will hit them hardest.

To raise funds, a proportion of the emissions credits which would be allocated to rich countries should be auctioned off to polluters rather than given away free, Oxfam said.

Some £33bn could be raised to help the world's poor this way without hitting taxpayers in developed countries, the aid agency said.

Heather Coleman, Oxfam's senior climate change policy advisor, said: "With a global financial crisis unfolding, these mechanisms could raise enough money from polluters without governments having to dip into national treasuries."

She said billions of pounds could be raised to help poor people survive droughts, floods and food shortages already being caused by climate change.